“The Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee provides a listening experience unlike any other,” writes Christopher R. Weingarten in Monday’s (3/27) Rolling Stone. “At the 2017 edition, Norwegian drone musician Deathprod blasted deafening noise inside a 1920s theater listed in the National Register of Historic Places, while the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra played Bach on the floor of a rock club,” led by Music Director Aram Demirjian on a program that included music by John Adams and Matthew Aucoin. “Despite some appearances from art-centic rock bands (Wilco, Tortoise, Deerhoof) … it was a practically headliner-free assortment of contemporary classical, jazz artists and soloists … This weekend it was definitely hard not to see the edges of genre fraying, the worlds of classical music and popular music blurring, the pretentions of ‘high art’ crumbling as beers clinked.… British minimalist Gavin Bryars [conducted] his ensemble in the United States for the first time [in] his 1971 arrangement Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet, a piece for a tape loop of a singing homeless man and his swooning orchestra following along…. Flautist Claire Chase performed a solo version of Steve Reich’s Vermont Counterpoint that was blissful and sparkling…. Audiences for the musical performances were passionate and voluminous throughout.”

Posted March 28, 2017